Editors of Smart's surviving correspondence must at once explain its paucity. Smart's few letters presented here include just fifteen for which actual holographs exist. An additional five letters were published before they were lost, and perhaps a sixth (see appendix A). But at least one of these is not complete and there is no way of judging the accuracy of any of these six. Thus we have accurate texts for fifteen letters and reported texts for five or six more. In addition, from various book catalogues we know something of four other letters, the texts of which are at present lost to us. Finally, we have references to an additional five lost letters, and though these are only a small fraction of the letters written by Smart but now lost, they are discussed here because it is at least known that he wrote them. To this small store we have added four published letters of dedication.
Of the holograph and reported texts, all have already been published, most of them several times, in various collections, biographies, and journals. They are brought together here not because they are unavailable elsewhere but because they have never been presented together; a collection of letters, especially when annotated and read as a group, sheds light upon the writer's character, life, and work.
The scarcity of letters written by Smart is itself, paradoxically, revealing. Like all literate people of his time and profession, Smart wrote thousands of letters. But apparently, despite their pleasure in the resurrection of his poetic reputation through Christopher Hunter's 1791 edition of his poems, and despite their belief in his earlier poetry, his wife, daughters, mother,
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Publication information: Book title: The Annotated Letters of Christopher Smart. Contributors: Betty Rizzo - Editor, Robert Mahony - Editor, Christopher Smart - Author. Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press. Place of publication: Carbondale, IL. Publication year: 1991. Page number: xv.
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